Monday, July 9, 2012

We Have You Surrounded

Oh, Fairlee Creek. You never cease to amaze me. We have seen our fair share of drifting boats, beached sailboats, beached powerboats, water gun fights and upside down sailboats, but this weekend may have topped them all.

Doug and I and two friends ventured to Fairlee Creek (Mears Great Oak Landing) this past weekend for their Saturday fireworks display. As usual, we got there early and set our anchors. Has anyone else noticed that having both a bow and a stern anchor seems to be the norm now? I'm fine with it. It should make everyone more secure in their spot.

The marina had bouys out marking a safety distance for the evening display:
Everything started off nice and calm. We swam, we visited Jellyfish Joel's for frozen concoctions, and we watched the Creek quickly fill up with boats. There was also a smart businessman offering ice, ice cream, and trash collection:
We were next to a boat that was having a good time with their slide and advertising a wet t-shirt contest.

Unfortunately, for many people, the fun stopped around 7pm. Here is a quick rundown of the events with my best estimation of time. Pictures can be found at the bottom of the list of events.
  • 7pm - The boat next to us (Bodacious) breaks free from both of its anchors. No one on the boat seems to notice.
  • Bodacious starts drifting in the current towards a raft-up of 6-7 boats. The people on those boats notice the issue and start yelling over to the captain to catch his attention.
  • The captain of the Bodacious attempts evasive action but it is too late.
  • Crunch! Anchor lines are cut and there is a tangle of boats. Unkind words are exchanged between people on all boats involved. We learned later that the captain of Bodacious claimed to have more boating experience than anyone else there. We all make mistakes, but if you have so much experience why did this happen?
  • DNR and the Coast Guard show up to supervise the detangling.
  • 8-8:30pm - All boats are detangled. It appears that there is minimal damage to all boats involved. Bodacious sets up anchor again in their original spot. The Natural Resource Police pull up to Bodacious and the captain gets off to talk to them.
  • 9:15pm - The fireworks start.
  • In the middle of the fireworks display, Bodacious pulls up their anchor. Everyone assumes they are going to leave the area. Instead, they hang out in the channel for the rest of the show. Again, we assume they will leave as soon as the entry/exit to Fairlee Creek is reopened after the fireworks.
  • 9:30pm - The fireworks end and Bodacious returns to their anchorage spot. No one is happy to see them return. I'm starting to get nervous because I'm not sure I can sleep with this boat next to us. Our anchors seem secure and it is much too late to try to reset.
  • Another boat pulls up to Bodacious to take passengers to shore. This is when it gets interesting.
  • Three Coast Guard boats immediately surround Bodacious. "We have you surrounded!" They instruct everyone on the "taxi" boat to get back onto Bodacious.
  • 10pm - Three Coast Guardmen board Bodacious and do a full count of passengers and search of the boat.
  • 10:30pm - Three more Coast Guardmen board Bodacious. One of them has a large rifle.
  • 11pm - All Coast Guard leave Bodacious. Passengers start disembarking in groups
  • 12 midnight - Only four people are left on Bodacious. They pull up anchor and move further back into the creek.
Starting to drift.
Crunch #1.
In the clear?
Coming in for another hit.
Crunch #2.
Crunch #3. The people on the water had joined the party from another boat and decided it was time to leave.
The captain is on the Natural Resources Police boat, however, the NRP boat is still in gear and almost causes Bodacious to hit another boat.
Doug takes the zodiac to help the raft-up reset their anchors.
So, here are my questions: Was the captain ticketed for something? I really hope so. I know that we all make mistakes but when you cause a car accident you receive a ticket. Why did the Coast Guard wait until after the fireworks (at least an hour after the incident) to board the boat? Were they waiting for back-up? Or did they finally board for another reason?

After all the drama, we were able to enjoy the rest of the evening and returned to Baltimore on Sunday. As an added bonus, the sunset and the fireworks were absolutely amazing! The fireworks were huge and were going off right over us. Great show Fairlee!

Friday, July 6, 2012

They're Here!

This is a public service announcement - jellyfish have officially been spotted in Baltimore. We saw two on the 4th of July in our marina (we tried to take pictures but the little suckers wouldn't cooperate). Looks like the scientists were right. I can't remember a time when I saw them this far north this early in the season.

As promised in my last post, here are a couple photos of us trying to get the stern anchor up after the storms. We first tried attaching the anchor line to the stern of the boat for leverage. When that didn't work, Doug jumped in the water to see what we were dealing with. Here's me at the helm and our friends holding the line while Doug gets back on the boat:
We next tried attaching the anchor line to the bow of the boat. Yes, that's me in a sundress trying to deal with a stubborn anchor. I repeatedly pulled up as much line as I could, cleated it, and got out of the way while hoping it would finally go free.
Our persistence paid off after about 45 minutes. We went home in one piece and with two anchors.

Thanks to Deb for taking pictures to document the process.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

We're Not in Kansas Anymore

First, let me apologize. I'm about to get a song stuck in your head. It just seemed so fitting:
Just sit right back
And you'll hear a tale
A tale of a fateful trip,
That started from Baltimore
Aboard this Regal ship.
The sun was shining hot that day,
The sky was clear and blue,
Four passengers set sail that day,
For a two night tour,
A two night tour.

The weather started getting rough,
The Regal ship was tossed.
If not for the courage of the fearless crew
Luv’n Life would be lost.
Luv’n Life would be lost.

A Trojan set ground on the shore
A SeaRay broke away
With sideways rain,
And pelting hail.
With eighty-mile
Winds that night,
The bow anchor went loose,
The stern anchor saved the day,
Here in Sue Creek.

So this is the tale of our mighty crew,
That experienced
The forceful storm that started,
At 11:30.

The captain and his admiral too
Did their very best,
Along with help from friends
Avoided disaster.

By 1 am the storm had passed,
The bow anchor reset
The soaking friends dried off
And finally found some rest.

The rest of the weekend was great,
Many more boats rafted up,
Until it was time to remove
The anchor dug in deep!

We went to Sue Creek this past weekend, just like we did around the 4th of July last year. Once again, we were the first to arrive and spent Friday evening anchored alone. We enjoyed a fantastic dinner:

And we relaxed until I received a text message from my mother at 10pm. Strong storms with fierce winds were coming our way. No big deal, we had weathered storms before. We tightened the anchor lines and waited for the storm.

This was like no storm we had experienced before. It turned out that we were anchored broadside to the winds and it wasn't long before our bow anchor was loose. Doug quickly pulled it in and we put the engines in gear just in case the stern anchor didn't hold. Our back canvas was still up and the rain and hail soaked us all. Waves crashed on the swim platform as we kept a close eye on a SeaRay that had broken free from its raft-up. Around 1am, the storm calmed enough to reset our bow anchor. We all laid down but I slept restlessly hoping that another storm didn't hit.

The next morning we learned that a Trojan had been beached. He was able to push off when the tide came in. A docked sailboat had its sail torn to shreds. And the fireworks barge had to be put back in place. Tree limbs were down and power was out all over the place. We may have had a rough night, but at least we had power through the generator.

By noon more boats had shown up. Everyone relayed their experience from the previous evening and then the festivities started. It was another hot day so we spent most of the time floating in the water. Did you know that baby floats can serve as beer holders?
Don't worry. The can was only there long enough to take a picture.
And the best way to get trashed is by using one of these coozies?

The Middle River fireworks were Saturday night. The house in front of the bow also set off their private display. There were fireworks all around us.

We stuck around until mid-afternoon and finally decided we had to head home. Normally we can center the zodiac directly above the stern anchor and pull it up by hand. We tried but knew it was never going to work this time. Friday night's storm had set the anchor very deep. One of the guys in the raft-up had a smaller powerboat and he tried to help us out.

That didn't work either. We ended up having to leave the stern anchor line with our friends while we retrieved our bow anchor. We pulled back around the other side of the raft-up and they used the paddle board to bring our stern anchor line to us. We tied the anchor line to the stern and tried using the strength of our own boat to pull it free. Again, no luck. We were only in 6 foot of water, so Doug dove down to see what we were dealing with. We have 6-feet of chain attached to the anchor before it goes to rope. He could only get to 2 feet of the chain. We were not ready to give up. So, we tried tying the line to the stern. After numerous tries, and then many more tries, and then many more tries....success! A friend took pictures of the whole process from her boat. I'll post a recap once I have those shots.

It started with adventure and ended with adventure but the fun in the sun in between made it all worth it.